Ambassador Ahmed’s students, as part of their undergraduate fieldwork course, Researching Islam, ventured today to the Gandhi Memorial Center in Bethesda, MD, among other sites around Washington, to conduct fieldwork on Islam in America and how groups such as Hindu-Americans and Jewish-Americans perceive Islam. Ambassador Ahmed’s students were warmly received and hosted by Srimati Carrie, the Director of the Gandhi Memorial Center.
Today, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed met with Senator Chris Murphy in his Capitol Hill office. Joined by Arsalan Suleman, the former Special Envoy to the OIC under President Obama, and his Chief of Staff, Patrick Burnett, Ambassador Ahmed presented Sen. Murphy with a copy of his most recent book, The Thistle and the Drone, and a copy of the Journey into Europe film.
U.S. President Donald Trump has emphasized that a central focus of his administration will be to wipe the so-called Islamic State “from the face of the Earth.” Key presidential advisers like Steve Bannon have spoken of Islam as the enemy of the United States and the West. And now Trump has signed a second Muslim-focused travel ban involving six nations ― a list that could expand ― following his campaign pledge to ban all Muslims from the United States, at least temporarily. He desperately needs to reassess his mindset if he wants to be successful.
The president is aware, as he said in his address to Congress, of the need to work with “allies in the Muslim world” in order to genuinely combat the problem of global terrorism. Yet this will be impossible if Trump continues to antagonize the world’s Muslims, including American allies. Demonizing Islam and issuing bans on citizens from Muslim-majority countries are not only ineffective ways to fight terrorism, but they also alienate valuable partners who find such Islamophobic rhetoric and actions humiliating and counter to many of their cherished cultural and tribal codes of honor, dignity and hospitality.
Instead, Trump and his administration should pursue a different tactic ― one that looks to win the hearts and minds of the larger Muslim community. Only then will he have the diverse scope to take on the threat posed by ISIS and groups like it. To do this, President Trump should draw from a relevant portion of history some eight centuries ago ― the acquisition of Jerusalem by the legendary Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II at the height of the Crusades through peaceful and diplomatic means.
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In Episode 5 of Series 2 Todd talks to Islamic expert and former Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK, Professor Akbar Ahmed from the American University in Washington DC. They discuss the post 9/11 myths that have built up around Islam, the growing tide of anti-Muslim rhetoric in politics and society and the implications for people’s religious freedoms and human rights.
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